Agriculture is the mainstay of any economy, and is fundamental to social economic development of any nation. This is because agriculture represents a strategic asset to the overall well-being of a country’s economy. It provides food, clothing, and generates foreign exchange among others.
This is why it’s very pitiful that in a great country like Nigeria filled with agricultural potential and development, the profession has waned considerably, as agriculture represents a third of the nation’s GDP while in 2014, it was the largest in Africa with around $500 billion.
My name is Titilayo Ferni Kings or TFK. Our organization is committed to transforming the face of Agriculture in Nigeria as endorsed by Mr President Dr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan and Dr.Akinwumi Adesina, the Honorable Minister of Agriculture during the Youth Employment in Agricultural Programs (YEAP) and the Fund for Agricultural FINANCE In Nigeria (FAFIN) launch in state house on December the 16th 2014. During the launch, our team came with the big Banner signed by over 1000,youths saying ”I study, believe and will practice agriculture as a career”.
Transforming the Face of Agriculture in Africa
In February 2012, I attended a leadership training in South Africa where I had interaction with the farmers’ fellowship in Stalenbush. It was during this meeting that I saw that the picture of farmers’ we have in Nigeria is different from the South African view. These farmers in South Africa were clean, tidy looking and rich. It was after this I promised myself I’d change the face of Agriculture in Nigeria and re-orientate the agricultural students that come around me.
After another event I attended in 2013 in London to better support university students, I discovered that the students that took my advice fared better. So I requested from my senior colleagues to always send me any agricultural students’ form to sign.
Afterwards, I anchored a programme at the Sheraton hotel, in Abuja called African Technology Exhibition for Sciences in Secondary Schools organised by Worldview International. In the course of the exhibition, i noticed that while exhibitors from abroad brought some innovations for teaching sciences which included Maths, Physics, Chemistry, and Biology nothing was brought for Agriculture.
When I highlighted this to the exhibitors they replied that “Nigeria was not serious about Agriculture”. This propelled me to do a postgraduate diploma in Agric Economics and Extension and my M.TECH in Agricultural extension and Communication Technology. I am currently working on my thesis themed “Effect of parents socio-economic and psycho-socio status on students preference for careers in agriculture in south west Nigeria”.
These experiences gave birth to the vision of Transforming the Face of Agriculture in Africa.
Our main goal is to re-awaken the citizenry about the importance of Agriculture in the growth and development of the economy in Agriculture fashionable and acceptable by the Nigerian youth and not to be seen as a punitive measure in correcting erring students at the various levels of our academic institutions.
We also seek to publicize and showcase value chains in Agricultural businesses to correct the misconceptions negating choices of careers in Agriculture, thereby recommending policies that will favour choices of careers in the Agricultural field. For this, correcting the misconception of parents’ perception on their children choice of career in Agriculture is key.
In view of these, we set out to secondary schools in Ondo and Ekiti states to find out the level of interest that the Nigerian young students have in the field of Agriculture. We successfully visited a total of ten randomly selected secondary schools in Ondo State, while Ekiti, Osun, Oyo, Ogun, Lagos and Edo state are on-going. Our target is to Agro-evangelise the entire 36 states in the country
We carried out our objectives by motivating the students about their future career and administering of questionnaires to sample their opinions. Agro career talks were organized to get them interested in agriculture. The final step is the Inauguration of Secondary School Face of Agriculture Africa Club (SSFOAA) Value chains and Agricultural communication training for Agriculture Science teachers.
Apparently, we have recorded a considerable increase in the level of interest of these students in Agriculture. From a meagre 54 to 2080, it is a resounding leap. With this steady progress, it is almost imperative that, with proper enlightenment and motivation, Agriculture can return to its rightful place as the foremost career prospect for average Nigerian students. It is noteworthy to say that these new converts have not only developed interest in Agriculture but have become new members of our club (Secondary School Face of Agriculture Africa Club)
The next phase of the project is shooting a hip-up musical video for agriculture by campus made stars and featuring notable stars in our country, songs have been composed already by musical stars from various campuses. As we all know youth love music and we can use this to build their interest.
Students union leaders in our country are notable pressure groups, with energy and resources not properly harnessed, we have started training them to be visionary, productive, accountable, through our project called Students Leadership Development Tournament Nigeria. Many of these students’ leaders are getting set to invest in agriculture on their campuses and pass it on to coming generation and if they do, the love for agriculture will spread like wild fire in Nigeria. Lastly we would be holding Agroevangelism and Agroshows all around the country as well as training agric teachers to deliver lectures in their class room with dexterity.